Jon Walpole: Butterfly {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Lepidopterology. Besides being an overly fancy Scrabble word with seven syllables is also the study of butterflies. As a caterpillar feeds and grows it will inevitably form a cocoon which will allow it to grow into a beautiful butterfly. With more knowledge and more gorgeous than all the mere underdeveloped caterpillars.

But what does this have to do with a comedy show? Well, Jon Walpole has reached the dizzying heights of personal development where he knows it all. Like a butterfly he has sprouted his own wings and is gracefully flying above the rest of us. Now he is on a quest to find a truly meaningful art piece… whatever that means. We’ll be along for the ride and if we are really lucky we will be turned from caterpillars to butterflies in the process!

Jon Walpole is one of the funniest stand-up comedians I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing on stage multiple times. With solo shows, his sketch group ‘Bombastic JOE’ (with Oli Robertson and Ed Rickards) and his kids show, ‘Jon & Jero’ (with Jeremaia Detto). Jon has proven himself a versatile, hardworking and most importantly hilarious talent. Having recently studied at the prestigious French clown school ‘Ecole Philippe Gaulier’, Jon Walpole has enhanced his abilities even further for 2024.

The previous solo show of Jon‘s I experienced was last year’s ‘One Man Performing a Two Man Show’. Framed as exactly what it says on the can Jon started off performing a duo act entirely stag. But the concept gave way to various hysterical skits including heaps of improv and crowd work. By the end, I think half the audience had been on the stage at some point! Butterfly is similar in many ways, although this time the night tied in much more to the central concept of an enlightened Jon returning from Europe spreading knowledge as he spreads his wings.

As you enter the theatre, eagle eyed viewers may spot Jon concealed in his larvae form. As Jon makes his way to the stage silently approving of the audience but disapproving of the speaker set up (a little more to the left… perfect) the audience was already in fits of laughter before Jon had even said a word. Jon‘s personality and character comes across as affable even when wearing hipster glasses, a beret and wrapped in a man sized, head to toe caterpillar costume!

But it’s not all creepy crawlies and butterflies as Jon goes on to perform in his brilliant and eccentric way. He showed us how to behave like the coolest guy in the world, he also showed us the worst therapist in the world. James McLennan, Jon‘s director and tech guy joins in on the fun as well with his mandated lunch breaks sporadically throughout the show. 

But a real standout of Butterfly is the audience participation. Jon Walpole‘s quick wit and improvisational skills mean that you never know what’s going to happen next. The crowd is brought in on the fun often, up on the stage and even in costume. Even when someone yells something out unexpected, Jon is able to role with it instantly. Few shows are as engaging for the audience as a Jon Walpole show.

A silent opening punctuated by bouts of laughter from the crowd. Stock music created by cannibal DJs. A performer who we need to beg multiple times to return to the stage. Turtleneck necks! Absolute insanity abounds and that’s exactly what I love about Butterfly.

Jon Walpole proves himself a standout of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. A comedian who always brings something new to the table. You owe it to yourself to check him out!

Jon Walpole is currently performing Butterfly at Tasma Terrace as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 21.
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